Bad Lads Army

Bad Lads’ Army: Officer Class Tuesday 16 October, 10.30pm

Bad Lads’ Army is back, and this time they’ve upped the ante.

Last year, Bad Lads’ Army took 30 wayward young criminals and proved they had what it takes to become model soldiers. We discovered that ‘Bad Lads’ can abandon their lawless ways and follow orders. But can this 1950s Army training transform 30 ne’er-do-well crims into Officers?
Condensing 16 weeks of 1950s style Basic Training and Officer Training into just one month, Bad Lads Army: Officer Class will push the lads to the limit – changing them not just physically and mentally, but hopefully also morally. Officer Class is the ultimate personal make-over. The lads will learn discipline, team work and respect. Their manners will even be transformed, along with their bearing and their outlook on life as they learn to think, act and even speak like gentlemen.

The ‘Bad Lads’ will undergo a weird and wonderful training programme that could only ever have been dreamt up in the bizarre eccentricities of class-ridden 1950s Britain. In this series, the emphasis will shift away from arms training and assault courses (although they will still have to complete these) and focus on more ‘gentlemanly’ activities, such as; art appreciation, gymnastics, deportment, 1950s style psychology, tying a bow-tie, plus – de rigeur for those posh types – putting on a show dressed up like a girl!

Make no mistake, despite the humour of the course this is NOT a soft option. In fact, it will be even tougher this time. If these lads are to make the grade, the standards expected of them will be even higher. Inspections will be stricter and the training relentless. The majority of the lads sign up for the series because they want to earn the respect of their families and their peers. As officers they will reach the most respected echelons of the British Army – but they must earn it the hard way.

Not everyone will make it. Towards the end of the training programme the lads will face a final major hurdle before they can pass out as officers – the War Office Selection Board. This was a notoriously tough three days of testing and interviews where National Servicemen would have to prove that they were officer material. Can our lads answer questions that test their leadership whilst having an increasingly powerful electric current passed through them? (Yes, it really used to happen!) Some may fail but those who succeed will be utterly transformed.

Join the ranks of Bad Lads Army: Officer Class at 10.30pm Tuesday 16 October, TV2.

UKTV started broadcasting a rather enjoyable reality TV series, called “Bad Lads Army”, in which a group of English yobbos (or do we call them Asbos or Scallies now?) volunteer to go through a few weeks’ of 1950s-style national service in the army, to see whether they could be made real men out of.
Never mind that it never worked in the 1950s and the army then had better things to do (and thought it could better spend its time and resources elsewhere) than to babysit ne’er-do-wells. But I guess the idea was irresistible to programme producers who may have detected an eagerness among the general public to get back at those surplus males.

And what an enjoyable sight that meted-out humiliation is. The first episode focused on the natural exhibitionist streaks and one-upmanship one encounters whenever groups of males are out of sight of females. They tested their manhood against the alpha males – the rather unassuming looking but hard-as-nails corporals and other officers in charge – when settling in their new surroundings.
The first half hour was an almost constant stream of bleeped out swear words, and it got so bad in the second half they didn’t even bother bleeping anymore, which actually made for much more natural coverage of events without drawing too much attention to the vocabulary used.
I was a little disappointed in the physical condition of a large part of the recruits, but perhaps I was expecting the extraordinary – not all of current 18 to 24 year olds are rugby players or porn stars, although a lot of them looked they were spending at least some time thinking about grooming, physical fitness and general personal hygiene.

The medical was a hoot, especially when the doctor asked one of the recruits, who had excellent eye sight: “Don’t you masturbate?” The embarrassed silence on the boy’s face was priceless.

Channel Premiere: Bad Lads Army

UKTV – Thursday 26 July, 7.30pm

Can a short, sharp dose of 1950s Army training sort out today’s young louts? Thirty young “bad lads” will be put through a regime which half way through the last century was reputed to turn boys into men – the National Service. The worst of a bad bunch, these thieves, thugs and fraudsters have gone off the rails and are now looking for their last chance to get back on track. The abuse screaming stars of the series, Corporals Murray and Nauyokas, will kick them into shape. Those who fail to make the grade will be subjected to a range of humiliating punishments which were actually used as techniques fifty years ago. Will cleaning communal bathrooms with a toothbrush, cutting the lawn with nail scissors and white washing every rock in the base change their ways for good? The experiences of the lads as they undergo four weeks of grueling ‘old-school’ basic training will be inter-cut with the hilarious moving testimony of celebrities who did it for real fifty years ago including Richard Briers, Paul Daniels, Sir Henry Cooper, Bernard Manning, Joss Ackland, Andrew Sachs and Martin Bell. They all battle for the ultimate reward of good old fashioned values and get an extreme personal makeover – Bad Lads into model citizens.